BEVA Ethics and Welfare committee member Kate Blakeman attended the “Planting the Seed: Towards a Better End of Life” at Nottingham Vet School recently. The aim of the symposium was to explore how conversations and planning for an equids lifelong care & treatment can be embedded with owners.
It was well attended by many sectors of the equine care giving community including vets, nurses, equine paraprofessionals, UK charity representatives and a selection of horse owners. Group discussions were based around considering what should go into a lifeplan, who should contribute to it and how & who we encourage to engage with life plans.
Equine vets are integral to life plans, with owners having ultimate responsibility for ensuring welfare including treatment received and when end of life decisions are to be made. Included in this are considerations of emergency treatment if required- critical decision making in times of stress is difficult when logic and emotion collide. Forward planning can enable all involved to make timely & appropriate decisions with the animal’s welfare paramount.
End of life decisions can be notoriously difficult for some owners. People often don’t engage with end of life planning because of their aversion to the prospect of loss. The ‘Horses in Our Hands’ study highlights major welfare issues, including abandonment and neglect, delayed euthanasia and poor quality of life when people are reluctant to make final decisions.
There are some excellent end of life planning resources currently available that can be shared with equine owners including
Equine End of Life
World Horse Welfare Managing End of Life
BHS Friends at the End
Blue Cross Saying Goodbye to your Horse